Patient Resources

Types of Birth Control: Part 1-Barrier Methods

When patients at our North Carolina Reproductive Medicine center think of birth control, the pill and IUDs usually come to mind. However, there are a variety of other methods that can help protect you from an unplanned pregnancy. Barrier birth control methods are a great option for those looking for non-hormonal, non-invasive ways to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. From NCCRM, Raleigh OBGYN center, here’s a look at some of the barrier options available.


One of the most popular (and oldest types of barrier methods is the condom. This thin sheath of latex (or polyurethane) is worn over the penis during intercourse and acts as a physical barrier between semen and the vaginal wall, preventing pregnancy. Condoms are one of the only forms of birth control that also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and are recommended by our Raleigh OBGYN center if your partner has not yet been tested for STIs. Condoms can be used in addition to other birth control methods like the pill and Intrauterine devices, or IUDs.

Effectiveness rate of condoms: 98%


The diaphragm is another type of barrier birth control method that can be used to prevent pregnancy. The diaphragm is a shallow dome-shaped cup made out of silicone or latex that fits snugly over the cervix and prevents sperm from entering the uterus. Unlike condoms, the diaphragm does not protect against STIs and needs to be used with other forms of protection such as spermicidal foam or jelly. Like condoms, diaphragms can be found over the counter in drugstores and come in different sizes. If using this method, it’s essential to make sure you find the right fit. If you bring your diaphragm to your appointment at our Raleigh OBGYN center, our doctors can help fit you and show you how to insert and remove the device.

Effectiveness rate of diaphragms: 94%

Cervical Caps

The cervical cap is similar to the diaphragm but is smaller in size and offers more coverage for greater protection against pregnancy. The cervical cap fits tightly over the cervix and prevents sperm from entering the uterus, making it an effective form of contraception. However, our doctors at our Raleigh OBGYN center note it does not protect against STIs. Like diaphragms, this means cervical caps should be used with other forms of protection such as condoms or spermicides.

Effectiveness rate of cervical caps: 86%


The sponge is a disposable device made out of polyurethane foam that contains spermicide and fits around the cervix like a cap or diaphragm. It can remain in place for 24 hours after intercourse and should not be reused — it’s meant to be disposed of after one use only. The sponge is available without a prescription at most drugstores, though you may want to consult your North Carolina reproductive medicine provider before using one as they are not suitable for everyone.

Effectiveness rate of sponges: 78%

NCCRM | Raleigh OBGYN Center

There’s more to birth control than just the pill! These barrier methods are just some of the methods you can try if you’re looking for alternatives. When deciding which barrier method might work best for you, it’s important to consider factors such as convenience, cost, comfort level, effectiveness rate, and side effects. Discussing these options with your fertility specialist NC can help ensure that you make an informed decision about which type of barrier birth control will work best for you. To learn more about our Raleigh OBGYN center or to request an appointment, visit our website today!

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